Wildfire fighting resources stretched thin in Arizona; SFD Chief implores limiting consumer fireworks use

Wildfires burning across the state and the imminent danger of brush fires in Scottsdale, especially around the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, has prompted Scottsdale Fire Chief Tom Shannon to call for residents to limit consumer fireworks use this summer.

“The wildfire danger is just too high,” said Chief Shannon. “We’ve seen too many acres of Arizona burn and to risk setting Scottsdale afire by a preventable means is not worth it for our community."

Instead, he says, it’s safer to attend professional fireworks shows where there are more resources available and safety protocols in place.

Nationally on average, fireworks caused an estimated 19,500 reported fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Annually, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treat an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks related injuries; 36 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15, says the NFPA. Sparklers accounted for 25 percent of the injuries.

Senate Bill 1158 allows for the sale of consumer fireworks from May 20 thru July 6.  Chief Shannon stresses that just because they are legal, doesn’t mean they are safe to use.  In Scottsdale, their use in and near many sensitive desert areas remains illegal and violators are subject to substantial fines. Use of fireworks is prohibited in the Scottsdale Preserve and Pinnacle Peak Park and all properties located within 1 mile of these fragile desert lands.

Regardless of the cause, it is important to know what to do if a brush fire breaks out. Wildland fires burn rapidly and winds often make them unpredictable. So, be very cautious when attempting to control a brush fire with a garden hose. Call the fire department for assistance every time. Dial 911.

  • Report brush fires immediately by dialing 911. Never assume someone else will make the call.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Shut doors and roll up windows. Leave keys in ignition. Close garage doors/windows. Disconnect automatic garage openers.
  • Confine pets to one room. Make plans to care for pets in case you must evacuate.
  • Follow instructions of emergency personnel. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Wear protective clothing, sturdy shoes, cotton or wool clothing, long pants, long sleeved shirt, gloves and handkerchiefs to protect your face.
  • Lock your home. Tell someone when you left and where you're going. Choose a route away from fire hazard. Watch for changes in fire's speed and direction.   

The National Fire Protection Alliance has a FREE 20-minute course that covers the basics of wildfire. Learn more of what you can do to protect your home: Visit NFPA links to external site and search "wildfire online learning."

If you would like a wildland fire safety assessment, fill out the form found here.


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